In 1998, the Forest Service, in response to increasing user pressure and decreasing funds, proposed to implement a mandatory fee program on the Snake River. In an effort to keep the Snake “fee free,” citizens and businesses approached the Jackson forest office with an unprecedented proposal. With the Bridger-Teton National Forest staff’s endorsement, the Snake River Fund was formed. Since that time, this voluntary, donation-based, grassroots organization has supplied funding to support river personnel, facilities upkeep, river volunteers, safety training, law enforcement, guide education and other river user services. The continuing partnership between the Bridger-Teton and the Fund remains unique in this country and serves as a model to other river systems struggling with management challenges.
As the Fund has matured and grown, it also has become, increasingly, the voice of the Snake River. The Snake River watershed is extraordinary. It is one of the few remaining intact riparian ecosystems in the United States, supporting a rare native fishery, undiluted by introduced or exotic species. It supports an abundant wildlife community. Its riparian corridor is an example of biodiversity. It is one of the jewels of Jackson Hole. It is a fragile place, worthy of our protection. The Snake River Fund has responded to community pressure to become more active in the role of river steward. As such, the Fund has participated in seeking opportunities to formalize protective measures, participate in restoration projects and educate and inform the general public through outreach programs.
Today, the Fund serves the river and its community in two ways: with direct impact projects and advocacy work. Direct impact projects such as the Kahuna/Blind Canyon Trail, Elbow boat ramp and Wilson boat ramp are examples of work that the Fund has paid for and facilitiated. The Fund helped conceive and build the Campaign for the Snake Headwaters, a wide-reaching effort that protected some 400 miles of streams under the federal Wild and Scenic Act. The Fund also is driving a collaborative planning process for the management and transfer of critical riverfront lands under the jurisdiction of the BLM.
It is the Fund’s vision that the Snake River watershed will remain a vibrant and diverse ecosystem for many generations to come to enjoy in a responsible manner. It is the Fund’s goal to ensure that happens.